There is not much information about the missionary work on the island Crete in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 27 gives us a very brief indication of a visit to Crete, but no real information. But from Paul’s letter to Titus we learn that Paul and Titus had been involved in missionary activity here, which had led to church planting on the island of Crete. When Paul departed from there he left Titus behind to continue the work, appointing elders (1:5), before coming back to him in Nicopolis (3:12).
Paul wanted Titus to complete the work of organising a biblical leadership there before coming back. And so, in this first chapter we read firstly about (i) 1:5-9 what sort of qualifications such an elder should have, and in (ii) 1:10-16 something about the necessity of having such an eldership in place.
1. Qualified elders for the church in Crete
5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you- 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
A careful reading of Titus 1 helps us to see that the church in Crete needed a biblical model of leadership, a credible role model for the Cretan church and society. Crete, like the rest of the world needed urgent spiritual revival and reformation. Their self- assessment was less than flattering. This society had grown seriously backwards. “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."(v.12) Imagine living in a society like that? I wonder what Paul would have said about Namibia? They were religious, influenced by Jewish mysticism(1:10), but it was not a religion that drove men and women to a God honouring holiness (see the assessment of v.16).
At any rate – a society becomes that which it worships. If a society worships idols, false gods, that worship will govern the culture of that society. If a society worships the true God, that worship will deeply influence and pervade its culture.  Western culture with its permissive values has continued to flourish for a while on the residual moral principles taught by Christianity, on what the Christian philosopher Henry Van Til (nephew of Cornelius van Til) called, “borrowed capital”. But Western Christianity is down and out and a re-evangelisation and reformation of Europe is desperately needed. I want you to see God’s answer through the apostle Paul.
Paul’s answer to the reformation of a society, following the proclamation of the gospel begins with the church and within that church the appointment and presence of a biblical eldership. The Reformation of the church begins with its leadership. Believe me, the devil knows this and he will resist and oppose every effort to undermine this principle. I speak from experience, but more than that, I speak with biblical authority on this matter.
Biblical eldership is needed to institute biblical reform that leads to a process whereby the church is continually reformed according to the Word of God. A healthy church is one that is led by a healthy eldership, producing healthy sheep. Such a church is salt and light to its community. It affects its community and it exports itself. That is how the 16th century Reformation exported itself. Look at the list of formidable men and elders that led the reforms in many churches! Satan, who is never slow to respond has led many counter reformations and has used false shepherds and elders to sow destruction.
What are the marks of a biblical elder? Paul gives Titus a list which is very similar to that in 1 Timothy 3. We can summarise the characteristics of a biblical elder in three categories
(a) He knows God’s Word well. He is a teacher of God’s word, promoting sound teaching, refuting false teaching. He is a discipler.
(b) He provides a good example in his domestic life
(c) He displays sound personal character.
a.1:5,9: Elders (note the plural!) maintain the standard of God’s Word through sound teaching and by refuting of false doctrine. Clearly it is not enough to see people converted. People need to be discipled. That is what the Great Commission in Matthew 28: 18-20 requires. Doing evangelistic ministry without discipleship is like giving birth to babies without feeding them. After people are led to Christ, and assembled into the church, the elders make sure that the flock of God is well taught and defended in the context of a corrupt culture. Everyday our people have questions on how to live a godly life in the context of many challenges. Elders must be prepared to give them biblically sound answers. By their sound, diligent and perseverant teaching, the life of the member is changed and thereby society is changed by the gospel, one person at a time.
The gift of the pastor elder is a substantial gift to the church. In Ephesians 4 Paul tells us that Jesus manifests His rule and His care over the church through the gift of pastor- teachers. They promote godliness in the church, helping people to grow in grace and maturity. Thus elders create clarity out of doctrinal chaos. They produce mature disciples that are not affected by every wind of doctrine blowing their way.
b. 1: 6-8 Elders must have a sound domestic life: Cretans in their church and society (the two affect one another) were affected by vices listed in vv. 10-12 … lying, evil, lazy. So what is the solution? Appoint elders. Through them teach and disciple the church by means of God’s Word… and through their own example that taught Word is strengthened.
This is what elders are to be like: they are to be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. Elders set the spiritual standard in the church. And for this they need to practise what they preach in their own homes. If they do not do this in their homes, how will they lead the household (the home) of God (cf. 1 Tim 3:5)? Elders need to be (v.6) faithful husbands, characterized by marital and sexual fidelity. Elders need to be faithful parents, whose children are respectful of them. “His children are believers” ( Greek: tekna exōn pista), which could also be translated as ‘faithful’.” Whatever the case is, it's clear that they are children who are “not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination”. While they are under the roof of their father they are submissive and respectful.
Elders’ homes are models of peaceful, godly homes in a chaotic society.
c. 1:7,8 – the elders character: not arrogant, not quick tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain; hospitable, a lover of good, self- controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. The character of an elder is described in terms of what he is not (5 negatives) and what he is (6 positives).In these matters the elder is to be above reproach or blameless (second time this is mentioned). What does it mean to be above reproach? It certainly cannot mean ‘sinlessly perfect’, for in that case we could have no elders. It means to be a person of integrity with respect to these areas that Paul lists. Here is a man who is not generally known as arrogant or quick tempered or a drunkard… etc. He is generally hospitable, he loves what is good, he is self- controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
Through this man’s behaviour and his household’s example, God is giving the church a living example of His truth lived out. Such people who live well are a gift of God’s grace to us. They teach us that this can be done.
Therefore, understanding this we need to pray for our elders. I can assure you that there is no elder who does not feel the heat of the spotlight of passages like I Timothy 3 or Titus 1.
Now, just for perspective, the elders life is the normal life that God requires of every man and woman and family in the church. It’s just that it has to start somewhere. The goal is to get the entire congregation looking like this! So don’t just look at your elders. Look at yourself. Every Christian family ought to be a model and an agent of reformation for this broken world in which God has placed you as salt and light.
Elders take the lead in presenting virtuous character in a chaotic society.
2. So, why are such Elders are needed for the church in Crete and the world?
The answer is contained in the the text below ...
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
This might as well be a statement of our world and society. This is a reflection of Namibian society. How will our society be cured from its many ills?
1. The primary answer is the preaching of the Gospel. Thank God that the grace of God has appeared to this end (cf. 2:11)
2. But it is also clear that the preaching of the gospel which leads to conversion is not the end. It is the beginning.
3. This beginning leads to people being assembled into a body called the church. In this church there are leaders and role-models called elders. Elders lead the transformation and reformation process of the church and society.
4. What are Elders for? Elders are for conveying God’s truth and confronting error. Look again at v.9. “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Elders are God’s role models of domestic and personal integrity. They lead by example. They lead the charge against the rot and the chaos. They bring stability into the community.
And so Paul wants Titus to find these kind of elders for the Cretan church, and by doing so he wants a seed for true Reformation planted in the the church. If that is what elders are for, will you not pray for your elders? Realize how vital they are to the health of your congregation. A congregation will not rise above the spiritual levels of the elders of this church, and so pray that our elders (present and future) remain a growing people in Christ so that the church and society may truly benefit from their godly example.
 located in the western part of the modern state of Greece
 Christianity and Culture : Lectures given at the Pensacola Theological Institute, July 23-27, 2001, Lecture I: What is Culture? By Dr. John M. Frame Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL
 From a paper given by me at the Sola 5 conference, Livingstone, ZAMBIA (2011), “ The Historical Outworking Of The Cultural Mandate Expounded And Illustrated In Western Civilization “